Examining the incubation period distributions of COVID-19 on Chinese patients with different travel histories
Keywords:COVID-19, Incubation period, Travel histories, China
Introduction: Current studies estimated a general incubation period distribution of COVID-19 based on early-confirmed cases in Wuhan, and have not examined whether the incubation period distribution varies across population segments with different travel histories. We aimed to examine whether patients infected by community transmission had extended incubation periods than the early generation patients who had direct exposures to Wuhan.
Methodology: Based on 4741 patient case reports from municipal centers of disease control by February 21, 2020, we calculated the incubation periods of 2555 patients with clear epidemiological survey information and illness development timeline. All patients were categorized into five groups by their travel histories. Incubation period distributions were modeled for each group by the method of the posterior Weibull distribution estimation.
Results: Adults aged 30 to 59 years had the most substantial proportion of confirmed cases in China. The incubation period distribution varied slightly across patient groups with different travel histories. Patients who regularly lived in Wuhan and left to other locations before January 23, 2020 had the shortest posterior median value of 7.57 days for the incubation period, while the incubation periods for persons affected by local community transmission had the largest posterior median of incubation periods, 9.31 days.
Conclusions: The median incubation period for all patients infected outside Wuhan was 9 days, a bit of more extended than the early estimated 5-day incubation period that was based on patients in Wuhan. Our findings may imply the decreases of virulence of the COVID-19 virus along with intergenerational transmission.
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